Congress says drugmakers held back Vytorin data

Cholesterol drug Vytorin--and makers Merck and Schering-Plough--have been under fire for months since a study suggested that the expensive combo med works no better than much less costly Zocor. Things became even hotter when it came to light that the American Heart Association was vouching for Vytorin despite the study results, perhaps because it gets almost $2 million a year from Merck and Schering-Plough. Now, Vytorin is under fire from a Senate Finance Committee, which has released evidence suggesting that Merck and Schering-Plough delayed negative research data from a test of Vytorin vs. cheaper statins to avoid a drop in the drug's sales.

In a letter to the pharmas, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) notes that while the results of the study, known as ENHANCE, remained in the can, the companies spent about $3.5 million on a marketing campaign to get doctors to switch patients to Vytorin from cheaper drugs.

To learn more about the latest Vytorin controversy:
- read this Associated Press piece
- read Sen. Grassley's letter to the drug companies (.pdf)

Related Articles:
AHA backs costly cholesterol drug combo. Report
Vytorin defenders funded by drug makers. Report
Vytorin, Zetia scrips plummet. Report
Heart docs back Vytorin. Report

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